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I was having a happy, playful texting conversation with a new friend. I was feeling intrigued and a bit attracted. This was so novel and nice, I was beginning to relax and let my guard down.
Bantering is my favorite thing with a bright, witty, capable partner.
I’ve heard a woman’s most important sexual organ is her brain. I don’t know if this is so for others, but it is certainly true for me. I value language and wit.
A bright and funny man with good grammar? One who thinks quickly and can keep up?
For me, this is so sexy.
So we were bantering, getting to know each other through this verbal exchange of words as foam swords.
He’s divorced and said something inconsequential about his ex-wife that was similar to my “ex” and I said so. He responded by saying my husband’s name in the form of a question. My new friend went on to say that he knows him from his professional world.
With the mention of one word, one name, his name, foam became steel.
I could instantly feel the clear and distinct recoil of my heart. I felt like I’d been slammed. The previously vibrant and shiny colors of the world dulled. Where I’d been actively involved in the repartee, I now had nothing at all to say. I’d gone from interested and engaged to finished.
This happened in an instant, and I observed it all with that detached witness consciousness that is always running in the background of my head.
Wow, I thought. Look at you. Look how you just completely dried up. What now?
All he’d done was mention a name, and I needed out.
This man I was chatting with had no way of knowing he’d done anything wrong.
I had a hard time understanding exactly what I was feeling, and why.
I now felt on alert and this was confusing. I was also pretty strongly judging myself for my reaction, which wasn’t really fair considering this was visceral.
In that fleeting moment, with the mention of his name, just one syllable, everything felt different.
We’d been playful, and now it felt so awkward and contrived.
It was clear to me I needed to go, so I struggled to end the conversation with some seeming sense of reason and grace.

Then I sat with it all. What was that?! Why did it matter?

When you watch a good film or play, you lose yourself in the story. If done right, everything unfolds seamlessly for the audience.
There are moments, through bad acting, poor direction, or sloppy editing when you are abruptly brought back into your seat as viewer. In theater, this is called “breaking the fourth wall”. Sometimes, this device is intentional. Here, it was not. With the mere mention of a name, my friend had pulled down the veil. He’d broken that wall.

My intense reaction to that moment—the lifted veil with the mention of my ex– is related to years and years in a very sad, bad marriage where he became increasingly more complicated and volatile and I became increasingly less whole.
I’m working on understanding my broken heart. It’s been mishandled and misused for so long. This realization and admission is a difficult one. It’s easier to believe we are in control of a bad situation than to realize we have so little control. It’s safer to believe we are responsible or at fault than to believe we can do nothing to alter what feels so wrong.
I have had an easier time understanding and forgiving him. If he could have been different, he would have.
I’m working on compassionately understanding myself so I do no further damage.